Starting From Scratch by Stacy Gail
Christmas is the perfect time to start from scratch
Lieutenant Sully Jax saved his unit during an IED attack, but he couldn’t save his marriage. He can’t even remember it. Recovered from his injuries, he’s come home to the family and friends he knows—and an ex-wife who’s a stranger to him.
Lucy Crabtree was heartbroken last Christmas when Sully announced his plan to go on one last tour of duty, and devastated when he asked for a divorce after he awoke in the hospital with no memory of her. She’s finally moving on from her hurt and from losing the man she loved more than anything, and her cookie-baking business is taking off just in time for the holidays. But now Sully’s back, and she can’t deny she still loves him. But how can she trust her heart to someone who breaks it every time she sees him?
Sully might not remember Lucy, but something inside won’t let her go. With every bite of her cookies, he finds a new love for Lucy, and he soon realizes he wants to rebuild his life with her by his side.
Lucy’s stride easily outpaced the traffic inching along what would be tomorrow’s parade route, with the town’s rotund sheriff directing traffic into an abysmal snarl. Relieved her own car was parked safely behind Lefty’s, she glanced into the garage to see Coe busily cussing out an engine block. With a quick wave she left him to it, hustling up the wooden stairs to her landing…and almost face-planting into a tightly netted tree leaning outside her door.
“Surprise,” came Sully’s voice from the tree’s other side. “Merry Christmas.”
Still rocking, she managed to make it up to the landing to find not just Sully and a bound Christmas tree, but also several bags filled with what looked like boxes of ornaments. “Okay,” she began, while trying to keep her teeth from falling out. “I’ll bite. What is this?”
“The moth incident.” Sully’s eyes were the exact color of the tree next to him, and it was nearly impossible to resist the smile that grew there. “I might not remember you, but I definitely remember the moths. I was thinking you might be worried about putting up a tree all by yourself because of that, so I thought I’d offer to put one up for you. And if you don’t want it, I’ll understand,” he added quickly when she opened her mouth. “You won’t hurt my feelings, if that’s the case. But maybe you’ll start to feel a bit of the Christmas spirit if we put on some schmaltzy Perry Como, drink a little hot chocolate and hang a few decorations. Oh, and another part of this deal—I solemnly swear that if even one moth flies out of this thing, I’ll kill it before you can let out so much as a peep.”
“You brought me a tree?” Surprise, and a silly, touched tenderness moved through her with all the magic of a cloudless sunrise to warm her from the inside out. Then realization shattered the spell. “Wait. You remember the moths, but not how I almost peed my panties when they attacked me like they had a personal grudge?”
“Oh, wow. When you put it like that, it makes me doubly pissed off that I can’t remember.”
Great. Moths were more memorable than her. With a sigh, Lucy unlocked the door and barreled inside. “I really appreciate all the trouble you went to, but unless my memory’s suddenly as much on the fritz as yours, I do believe I told you that I was giving Christmas a pass.”
“You also said I wasn’t the reason behind it, but I didn’t believe that either.” Hesitating on the threshold, his gaze locked with hers. “You were right when you said I should be on my knees thanking you for everything you’ve done for me. I know I don’t have the right to ask you for anything more, but I am. I’m asking you to give me the chance to say thank you.”
She put a hand to the sudden ache in her chest. “By giving me a tree?”
“By reminding you that you love Christmas.” He gave the tree a little shake. “So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to send this tree packing into the cold, cruel world with no place for it to call home? Just think—a sad, homeless tree wandering the mean streets of Bitterthorn, with no one to give it love or popcorn strings at this joyous time of year—”
She snorted with reluctant laughter. “Okay, okay, you win. Get that thing in here already.”
“Now there’s a smile I can work with.” Instead of moving inside, he stared at her as if he were trying to memorize every line and curve of her face. The intensity of his attention was enough to stall out the basic biomechanics she used for breathing, and when a heated glow ignited in her cheeks she put a hand up to cover it. A blush. Good grief, the man could make her blush just by looking at her. How was that even fair?
Q: Romance readers have a lot of choices these days. What makes Starting From Scratch stand out in the crowd?
A: STARTING FROM SCRATCH is a military homecoming-themed contemporary romance inspired by a friend’s perseverance after her Marine husband was injured while serving in Iraq. Her courage made me want to put a spotlight on the strength of military spouses; they don’t get parades or medals or even a pat on the back for all they do. If you know anyone who has a spouse in the military–or you are one yourself–this novella is my way of saying thank you.
Q: We like to include our favorite quote in our reviews of the books we read. What is your favorite quote from Starting From Scratch?
A: My favorite quote from Starting From Scratch is:
“Are you going to get naked, or am I the only one who’s going to have any fun around here?”
About Stacy Gail
A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.
The Author Wants To Know:
Your hero is coming home for the holidays. What special holiday traditions would you greet him with to welcome him home? (Feel free to be creative! ^_^ )